Missing Mum - sadness in silence
Today is my Mum's birthday.
Listen, I know I've mentioned missing her more than once in this column, but please bear with me.
Today is firmly up there in terms of my least enjoyable days of the year: right alongside her anniversary, Christmas, my parents' wedding anniversary: taken-for-granted moments that become cloyingly bittersweet.
(There is an elephant in the room, and it has eaten all of the birthday cake.)
Unfortunately each of those days rolls around like clockwork and despite the self-help books on grief, and the well-meaning friends and strangers alike, time doesn't make it more bearable.
You just learn to live with it. You keep chugging onwards.
You cry quietly in bed at night, your face turned into the pillowcase so that nobody hears you.
Everybody sleeps soundly, you wake up the next morning with weird rings below your eyes, and you mentally tally how many more days until the next one arrives. You brace yourself.
I've made some wonderful memories since moving overseas.
I've seen more of the world than I deserve to, made long-lasting memories with new friends from different continents, and have watched my life change in a myriad of (wonderful) ways.
Getting engaged is one of those things in life that should be nothing but exciting.
It is exciting.
But, as anybody who has lost a parent undoubtedly knows, every one of life's joyous events is tinged with an unshakeable sadness. You become more adept at burying it, yes, but still - it is there.
If that sounds overly morose . . . well, you're probably lucky enough to have all of your loved ones nearby.
The realisation that I will probably go dress shopping alone, will struggle to decide how to honour my mother's memory without turning a celebratory ceremony into a pity party, and will have a gaping hole in my chest that will feel too self- indulgent to acknowledge and runs the risk of leaving mascara trails down a very expensive dress isn't something I should even be thinking about right now.
I should be luxuriating in the glow that comes with being newly- engaged.
Logically I know I shouldn't be wallowing in anything unpleasant or self-pitying.
Given how fortunate I am to be where I am right now, figuratively and literally, I should have nothing to complain about.
But tonight, when my face is turned towards the pillow, that might be hard to remember.
The Southland Times